Bullseye

Bullseye is a public radio show about what's good in popular culture. With a keen editorial eye, Bullseye sifts the wheat from the chaff, and brings you hot culture picks, in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary creative people and irreverent original comedy.

Bullseye is equal parts funny and fascinating. Whether you're already plugged in to the culture map, or looking for a signpost, Bullseye will keep you on target. More About Bullseye

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Karyn Kusama on directing genre films and her new film 'Destroyer'

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Karyn Kusama

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

Photo: Jesse Thorn

Karyn Kusama on directing genre films and her new film 'Destroyer'

Karyn Kusama is a director. Her debut was the critically acclaimed drama "Girlfight," a movie about a female boxer that Kusama based on her own time in the ring. Since then, she's established herself as autere of genre films: in 2005 she directed the science fiction film "Aeon Flux," and has worked on horror movies like "Jennifer's Body" and "The Invitation."

She just directed the new film "Destroyer." It's a dark and complex crime drama, told in mostly flashbacks. It stars Nicole Kidman, who plays Erin Bell, an LAPD detective. As a young cop, Bell was placed undercover with a gang in the California desert. Things didn't end well, and the case she was on was never put to rest. When the leader of that gang re-emerges over a decade later, Bell goes rogue reopens the case on her own terms. Kidman's character is haunted by her memory of the past. And it's put a strain on her relationship with her daughter, Shelby.

Karyn discusses why it's important to portray complex female characters in film and media. She'll tell us about the look book she drew inspiration from when she directed 2009's "Jennifer's Body," and why she thinks the film struggled to find an audience when it was first released. Plus, how she finds pleasure in horror movies. And , sure, a lot of people find pleasure in horror films, but Karyn's response will truly surprise you.

If you'd like to hear even more from Karyn Kusama, she did a great interview on the Max Fun podcast Switchblade Sisters with the film critic April Wolfe. You can listen to that interview here.

Listen to this Bullseye interview on YouTube!

Bullseye Live at Listen Up Portland!

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Date: 
02/15/2019 - 19:00 - 21:00
Show: 
City: 
Portland, OR
Venue Name: 
Revolution Hall

Revolution Hall
1300 SE Stark St #110
Portland, OR 97214

Tickets are on sale now!

Featuring special guests:

Corin Tucker and Lance Bangs
Bill Oakley
Comedy from Kate Nyugen
and
Musical Guest Roseblood, fronted by Kathy Foster

Bullseye from NPR is your curated guide to culture. Jesse Thorn hosts in-depth interviews with brilliant creators, culture picks from our favorite critics and irreverent original comedy. Bullseye has been featured in Time, The New York Times, GQ and McSweeney's, which called it "the kind of show people listen to in a more perfect world." (Formerly known as The Sound of Young America.)

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Chris and Bridey Elliott on the new horror comedy 'Clara's Ghost'

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Chris Elliott
Guests: 
Bridey Elliott

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Chris and Bridey Elliott on 'Clara's Ghost'

Chris Elliott got his start in showbiz as a production assistant on "Late Night with David Letterman," before becoming an iconic writer and performer on that show. One of our favorite bits from him on Letterman included a parody of Marlon Brando – in the skit he'd dump bananas out of a sack and slowly dance around them to the tune "The Alley Cat."

After his stint with Letterman, he went on to star in the cult sitcom "Get A Life" and the equally bizarre film "Cabin Boy." Both works have cemented him as an absurdist comedy legend. While those projects are not for everyone; they're a real treat if you can sit though some really cringe worthy moments.

You've definitely seen him in "There's Something About Mary," "Groundhog Day," and "Scary Movie" and in many TV shows, including "The King of Queens," "How I Met Your Mother," and "Everybody Loves Raymond." Most recently, he can be seen as Roland Schitt, the mayor of the small town on Pop Tv's "Schitt's Creek."

Bridey Elliott, his daughter, wrote and directed a new movie called "Clara's Ghost." It's a family collaboration: Bridey also stars in the movie, along with Chris, her sister Abby, and her mother Paula.

The movie takes place over one night. It tells the story of the Reynolds family, who live in a secluded mansion in New England. Chris' character Ted is the patriarch, a comedian past his prime. His daughters work in showbiz, too, but like their dad, haven't gotten a callback in a long time. Then there's Clara, played by Paula Elliott. Clara's discovered a ghost that only she can see.

We'll chat with Chris Elliott about his time on Letterman, and what it was like to work on the strange film "Cabin Boy." Plus, he'll tell us why he doesn't use social media. Bridey will explain how she tried to make horror film that had significant elements of comedy, and how "Cabin Boy" was kind of a horror film when she saw it as a kid. Plus, what it's like when people find out who her dad is, which often garners one of two very different reactions.

Listen to this interview on YouTube!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Hasan Minhaj & Sharon Horgan

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Hasan Minhaj
Guests: 
Sharon Horgan

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Hasan Minhaj on Doing Stand Up Comedy in Other Countries and Air Jordans

Hasan Minhaj hosts the new Netflix show Patriot Act. He was also a correspondent on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, which he did up until August of 2018. His comedy is a mix of political and satirical comedy.

Hasan and Jesse talk about his one-man show, stand up comedy in other countries, and sneakers.

Click here to listen to Hasan Minhaj's interview on YouTube.

This interview originally aired in 2016.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Catastrophe's Sharon Horgan on Creating Flawed Characters

Sharon Horgan has a knack for the creating shows that reveal her characters as determined, funny, sexy, complex, and at times, very flustered. Her comedy has a lot of insightful observations into what it means to be a professional woman negotiating multiple roles including wife and mother. These themes are in full display on her show Catastrophe.

Sharon sat down with Jesse to talk about getting past the awkwardness of writing and filming sex scenes, the evolution of a relationship before and after having kids, and the reasons she likes playing a character who can sometimes come off as a jerk.

A new season of Catastrophe comes out later this year.

Click here to listen to Sharon Horgan's interview on YouTube.

This interview originally aired in 2016.


Photo: Andrew H. Walker / Getty Images

The Outshot: Prince

Jesse remembers how the musician Prince inspired people to dare to be themselves.

Click here to listen to The Outshot on YouTube.

Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: End of Year 2018 Comedy Special

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Show: 
Bullseye

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

It's that time of year again! The Bullseye team listened to hours of comedy from the past year and picked the absolute best for you to enjoy in one convenient episode. There was a lot of great stuff this year. This was no easy task -- please let us know who else should have made the cut @Bullseye or on Facebook!

Like what you hear? Click through to learn more information on these comedians. For your convenience links to buy their albums have also been provided below:

Gina Yashere - Ticking Boxes
Laura House - Mouth Punch
Adam Cayton-Holland - Adam Cayton-Holland Performs His Signature Bits
Sara Hennessey - They Know Too Much
Louie Anderson - Big Underwear
Kimberly Clark - Live at Max Fun Con 2018
Emily Heller - Pasta
Nore Davis - Too Woke
Jo Firestone - The Hits
Dino Archie - Live at Max Fun Con 2018
Jen Kirkman - Just Keep Livin'?
Nato Green - The Whiteness Album

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Holiday Spectacular! Featuring: The Monkees, Alonso Duralde, The McElroy Brothers, and Sy Smith

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Micky Dolenz
Guests: 
Alonso Duralde
Guests: 
The McElroy Brothers
Guests: 
Sy Smith

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo:Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

Micky Dolenz on The Monkees' new Christmas album

Our guest Micky Dolenz starred in the hit 1960's TV show "The Monkees." It was essentially a Hollywood version of The Beatles' rock-n-roll comedy "A Hard Day's Night." Micky played the drummer and one of the singers alongside Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork, and the late Davy Jones. The gang played four lovable goofs trying to make it as a band, bumming around Los Angeles, solving mysteries, and staying in haunted houses.

And, this probably isn't news to you, but: The Monkees weren't a band before the show started. They each auditioned for parts in the show, and most of them were mainly actors. Nevertheless, they had some legendary all-time hits like "Last Train To Clarksville," "Daydream Believer," and "I'm a Believer."

The band actually outlasted the show itself and just this year they recorded and released their 13th studio album Christmas Party. It's a holiday record chock full of standards, covers, and originals. It's also got contributions from Rivers Cuomo, Peter Buck and more.

Micky tells Jesse about a time when he was spotted in a mall by screaming fans, and what John Lennon really thought about The Monkees.

Click here to listen to our interview with Micky Dolenz on YouTube.


Photo: Courtesy of Alonso Duralde

Alonso Duralde on Hallmark Channel Christmas Movies

Alonso Duralde is film reviews editor for The Wrap and the author of Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas. He also co-hosts Maximum Fun's Who Shot Ya? podcast.

Alonso talks to Jesse about the basic elements of every Hallmark movie, his search for veiled gay characters in those films, and offers an alternative suggestion to typical Christmas cinematic fare.

Click here to listen to our interview with Alonso Duralde on YouTube.


Photo: Courtesty of The McElroy Brothers

The McElroy Brothers Share Christmas Advice

Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy are the hosts of the Smash Hit podcast My Brother, My Brother and Me.

They talk to Jesse about ways to make white elephant gift exchanges more interesting and share their findings of long-lost verses from well-known Christmas carols.

Click here to listen to our interview with The McElroy Brothers on YouTube.


Photo:Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Song That Changed My Life: Sy Smith on My Favorite Things

Sy Smith is a brilliant singer, songwriter, and producer that lives here in Los Angeles. She's been recording soul records for over a decade now and has collaborated with folks like Kamasi Washington and Thundercat. She's also an incredibly talented backup singer for greats like Sheila E., Chaka Khan, Usher, and Whitney Houston.

Sy talks to us about two versions of her favorite holiday tune - My Favorite Things by Julie Andrews from The Sound of Music original soundtrack and it's interpretation by jazz legend
John Coltrane.

She just dropped a seasonal EP called Christmas in Syberspace and it's streaming now.

If you live in New York, don't miss a chance to see Sy performing with trumpeter Chris Botti. They'll be live every night at Blue Note right up until Christmas.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jason Mitchell and Karina Longworth

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jason Mitchell
Guests: 
Karina Longworth

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo: Paras Griffin / Getty Images

Jason Mitchell on his new film 'Tyrel' and portraying Eazy-E in Straight Outta Compton

First up: Jason Mitchell! We can't wait to share this conversation with you – he's an up and coming actor with a lot of great stories to tell. He's magnetic, and as you'll hear in our interview he's extremely charming.

Recently, he's been in a lot of acclaimed movies and television shows. In Netflix's "Mudbound" he played a World War II veteran who returns to rural Mississippi. Or perhaps you've seen him on Lena Waithe's Showtime series "The Chi," he starred as Brandon. He's probably best known for his breakthrough role: 2015's "Straight Outta Compton." He sort of stole every scene he was in as Eazy-E.

His latest film "Tyrel," is out now. In it, Jason stars as Tyler: a young guy who lives with his girlfriend in New York. Deciding he wants to get out of the city for the while, he takes a trip with a handful of guys his age. He rides out to Catskills for a long weekend in a cabin.

The plot really thickens when you learn that the guys in the cabin are all friends of friends. He doesn't really know any of them. And the other thing: Tyler's black, while everyone else on the trip is white. It's an awkward and weirdly plausible look at race and masculinity and how people react when they have to deal with those topics head on.

Jason will talk about how this film helped create a friendship with co-star Michael Cera. He'll also discuss his road to stardom: he didn't get his first role until he was 24. And it wasn't an easy road – he was raised in a tough part of New Orleans, his home was devastated by Katrina, and he had run-ins with the law when he was younger. Plus, as a former professional oyster shucker he'll give us some tips for preparing the culinary delicacy.

Listen to this segment on YouTube!


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Karina Longworth on her new book: 'Seduction
Sex, Lies, and Stardom in Howard Hughes's Hollywood'

The Golden Age of Hollywood was a fascinating time – this was the era of James Dean, Orson Welles and "Gone With The Wind." Look up the topic and you'll find hundreds of books, movies, TV shows, and even bus tours. Sometimes those depictions will get swept up in the glitz and glamor. Other times it's quite the opposite: dark, morose, and gritty.

Karina Longworth is writer and host of the hit podcast "You Must Remember This," which looks at some of the secrets of Old Hollywood. She's an expert on the history of Hollywood's Golden Age and she's written five books on the topic to prove it. Her latest book: "Seduction
Sex, Lies, and Stardom in Howard Hughes's Hollywood
," explores Hughes' time as a producer and director.

It's as sordid and cutthroat as you might imagine. The book talks about Hughes' role in Hollywood back then. The dozens of movies he financed, the few he wrote and directed. The weird, abusive system he created to recruit and develop young actresses – and the way he manipulated them. Longworth's book is beautifully written, and meticulously researched. She talks about the impact and damage done by Hughes and the people whose lives he affected forever.

Listen to this segment on YouTube!


Photo: Namco

The Outshot: Katamari Damacy

Finally for The Outshot, Jesse describes the whimsical world of Katamari Damacy – a video game that will fill you with wonder. A remastered version of the game has just been released. It's the perfect time to reflect on the simple joys of this funky little game.

Listen to this segment on YouTube!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Remembering Ricky Jay

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Ricky Jay

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo:Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Remembering Ricky Jay

This week, we're doing something a little different. We're looking back on the life of one of Jesse's favorite Bullseye guests ever: Ricky Jay, who died last month at 72.

Ricky Jay was one of the first magicians to play comedy and rock clubs in the 60s. He became one of the most adept illusionists in the world and one of the greatest sleight of hand performers who ever lived. He's in the Guinness Book of World Records for his card tricks and authored a bunch of books on the history of magic.

Ricky was an actor, too, who appeared in a bunch of movies like "Boogie Nights" and "Tomorrow Never Dies." He had a pretty big role on "Deadwood" and narrated PT Anderson's "Magnolia." David Mamet directed his one-man shows.

On this episode, you'll hear from several different interviews I did with Ricky over the years. We talked about his acting, his research into the history of magic, even the nature of truth itself.

First, we'll share our conversation with him in 2005. Ricky Jay talked with Jesse on the phone about his collection of handbills and flyers from performances dating back all the way to the 17th Century.

Ten years would pass before he was a guest on Bullseye again. It was early 2015 and he was the subject of an episode of American Masters, the PBS series. He was the first magician to ever get profiled on the show. It's available to stream online. You should absolutely check it out.

The last time Ricky Jay was on the show was in 2016. He'd just written a book about Matthias Buchinger. Buchinger was an artist and calligrapher. He was born without hands or feet and was only 29 inches tall. He called the book "Matthias Buchinger: The Greatest German Living."
It's out of print but if you can find a copy, you should pick it up.

Click here to listen to our interviews with Ricky Jay on YouTube.


The Outshot: "Learned Pigs & Fireproof Women" by Ricky Jay

Here's a celebration of one of Ricky Jay's best selling books.

Click here to listen to The Outshot on YouTube.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Billy Eichner and Ali Wong

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Billy Eichner
Guests: 
Ali Wong

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

Billy Eichner and the Pop Culture Maniac That is Billy on the Street

[R] This week, we'll revisit our conversation with comedian Billy Eichner. He's probably best known for roaming the streets of New York with a camera crew, roping unsuspecting pedestrians into playing his game show, "Billy on the Street." While Cash Cab paved the way for street-ambush game shows, Eichner's approach has a unique twist.

The correct answers are often subjective (as in the game "Dead or Boring") and his game show persona is hyper-energetic and over-the-top. He's ready to swoon with a contestant who shares his love of Meryl Streep, or yell and stalk angrily away from a contestant who doesn't.

Eichner tells us about his screaming encounters with Madonna, the influence of Pee-wee Herman on his on-screen persona, and the role that game show laws played in the development of his show. (It turns out that "game show compliance lawyer" is a real job.)

New episodes of "Billy on the Street" are available online on Funny or Die. You can also see him on "American Horror Story," "Difficult People," and so much more.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Ali Wong talks marriage and money and what it’s like performing through her pregnancy

There are many comedians who use their family life as inspiration for their comedy, but Ali Wong took it a step further when she recorded the 2016 comedy special "Baby Cobra" while seven and a half months pregnant.

Wong’s comedy is rooted in her willingness to be incredibly frank and honest about her personal life including her relationships, her Asian heritage and the challenges of pregnancy while working as a writer on the hit television show, "Fresh Off the Boat."

When Ali Wong joined Jesse a couple years ago she talked about being a breadwinner, performing while pregnant and how it feels to talk about painful and personal things like miscarriage in front of a comedy audience.

Ali Wong has another new comedy special: "Hard Knock Wife." She did the entire special pregnant, again. It's available to stream now on Netflix.

The Outshot: João Gilberto

On the Outshot, Jesse features João Gilberto, a musician who stripped away the heat and intensity of samba to create a cool, minimalist genre: bossa nova.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Tim Blake Nelson & Mary Randolph Carter

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Tim Blake Nelson
Guests: 
Mary Randolph Carter

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Tim Blake Nelson on Working With The Coen Brothers and The Jewish Enclave of His Youth in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tim Blake Nelson is kind of a character actor. He's from Tulsa, and has a little bit of an accent to prove it. He plays up that accent in a lot of his roles: maybe he'll play a desert-dwelling outsider, a corporate type from Texas who wears boots, or a Faulkner character. He's also played unforgettable parts in some great movies, like Delmar O'Donnell in O' Brother, Where Art Thou?, the Coen Brothers classic.

Now, he's starring in another Coen Brothers movie - it's called The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, which just debuted on Netflix. The film is made up of six vignettes. Each is a story about the old west told in archetypes: the bounty hunter, the wagon settler, the big goofy gold miner with a big goofy beard and a burro at his side. Tim plays the title character: Buster Scruggs, the star and subject of the first vignette. He's a handsome, kind of flamboyantly dressed singing cowboy with a revolver in his holster and a guitar around his back - kind of a Gene Autry type and he's got a way with words.

Tim talks to Jesse about the career path he would have taken had he not become an actor and the time he got play a villain in a live action version of Scooby Doo - and how he would have gotten away with it, too.

Click here to listen to Tim Blake Nelson's interview on YouTube.


Photo: Courtesy of www.carterjunk.com

Mary Randolph Carter on The Virtues of Junk

Mary Randolph Carter, or Carter, as she's known, has worked high up at fashion house Ralph Lauren for decades. She's currently the creative director. That's her day job.

In her free time, she collects stuff. She calls it junk. And she's got a lot of junk.

In her New York apartment, her walls are filled with old pictures. There are books stacked under desks, along the walls, sometimes out in the open. If you're sitting on her sofa with a drink, your best bet is to probably hold onto it: more often than not, her coffee table, surely an antique, is covered in vases, little sculptures, and more books. Always more books.

Does her place look busy? Yeah, a little. But it doesn't look cluttered. It's deliberate. It's thoughtful. Welcoming. Everything has a story.

Mary has authored a handful of books about junk: photos of flea markets, guides to antique stores, and design inspiration. Her design philosophy is summarized in her book titles: A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of A Misspent Life , Never Stop to Think... Do I Have a Place for This?, and her latest The Joy of Junk: Go Right Ahead, Fall In Love With The Wackiest Things, Find The Worth In The Worthless, Rescue & Recycle The Curious Objects That Give Life & Happiness.

Mary talks to Jesse about meeting Ralph Lauren for the first time and why great junk finding in New York is easy.

Click here to listen to Mary Randolph Carter's interview on YouTube.


Photo: Paramount Pictures

The Outshot: "Police Squad!"

Finally, Jesse spotlights the short-lived 1982 TV police procedural parody that inspired the Naked Gun movies starring Leslie Nielsen.

Click here to listen to this week's The Outshot on YouTube.